Do I have to be an Example?

29 Jan

I recently came to the understanding that I was, in fact, an adult. If you want to read about my mental journey of getting there, you can do so here. If you wish to correct me and let me know that I am not an adult, you can let me know that here. While it would be nice to go back to the “worries” of childhood, I have slowly begun to put away childish things.

One thing that I never really became accustomed to is that when you finally become an “adult,” you end up becoming the go-to person for others who are just beginning their journey into the dark abyss of personal responsibility we dub Adulthood. The problem is that everything becomes weightier. Whether your journey to adulthood was smooth, exceedingly rough, or somewhere in between, those who come behind you view you as an adult. They didn’t always observe the growing pains you had to go through; they think everything you say is THE answer to how to become a good adult!

I have spent a good chunk of my adult life as an instructor in a variety of subjects. There are some students who call me ten years after a class to ask a question. While it is extremely flattering, there are times where my knowledge of the subject I taught was barely ahead of the students (those who met me as an instructor, I have since become an expert in all these fields; please call me with all questions). But this is a natural reaction as humans. I think back to teachers I had growing up and I still think they were amazing. Kelly and I recently sent our son to the same school where I went to elementary school. I was shocked that some of the teachers who taught me how to do my first oral book reports are actually not as good at public speaking as I am. I am amazed that my understanding of math is superior to some of my teachers growing up, yet I emailed one of them to ask a question just a few weeks back.

The first boss I had at McDonald’s taught me things that to this day I assume must be perfect, despite the fact that years later I was teaching people in a “better” way. I think the first person who introduces us to a subject is automatically the world’s foremost expert in our mind. And because of this, when people who are looking at becoming adults see us and they like the fun/serious balance we have found as adults, they assume we are the best person to ask. However, the reality is that I just accepted my own elderliness, and I’m now asked to assist these people going through trials.

What I am realizing is that we are all in the same boat. Unless you grew up in the Jewish faith, I doubt you had a ceremony where all your friends and relatives pronounced you an adult. There is no ceremony for anyone when we get that first person who wants to model us in some way. It is downright scary for all of us! But I think I can temper that scariness by recognizing my own continuing shortfalls. When I recognize that there is nothing naturally reproducible in me, I am further recognizing that the things which are reproducible in me are merely the grace of God displaying themselves. Therefore, if I can tell those who want to look to me to look instead to God, I feel like I can’t go wrong with that advice!

I was a huge fan of the series I Love the 70’s and I Love the 80’s. They used people who grew up during that time period to talk about it. These people were hilarious as they recalled the trials of their youth in a humorous way. Then something happened. They tried to do I love the 90’s and the show wasn’t about these people growing up, but it was about them recalling life as an adult. Now that is a fine exercise unto itself, but something had changed. The series was modeled the same way, but it just didn’t pass the muster in and of itself.

This is how I feel about my adulthood in general—the life is the same, but there is an adjustment to how I am viewed by the outside. As more and more people are modeling what they say they see in me and I see an array of results (good and bad) from these people, I am encouraged to live better. This is a good thing. I hope that the accountability I feel continues to keep me on my toes.

But as people start asking me for advice on how to live, I realize the weightiness, but with God’s help I hope to be up for the task. I recognize that if I am not up for the task, that doesn’t take it away, it just leads people improperly. So I would implore everyone to live like someone is watching. And when someone specifically comes to you looking for advice, be flattered and be cautious to separate what you want to tell them with what you should tell them.

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One Response to “Do I have to be an Example?”

  1. Jenni May 9, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    I don't get people asking me about how to approach the threshold of adulthood. Hmm. Go you.

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